Philly Faces: Recent Grad Dives Into AJC

Max Buchdahl
Max Buchdahl (Provided)

American Jewish Committee (AJC) Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey hired Max Buchdahl, 22, before he had even graduated college.

Buchdahl started working part-time as AJC’s Leaders for Tomorrow (LFT) and ACCESS associate in January 2018. The Baltimore native transitioned to full-time in June after graduating from Temple University, where he studied journalism and political science.

At Temple, he got involved in Hillel, serving on the board as education chair and president. During the summer of 2016, he interned at AJC, where he took part in the organization’s Democratic National Convention activities. The next summer, he participated in JEVS Human Services’ Franklin C. Ash Summer Internship Program, through which he once again interned at AJC.

Now, he runs LFT, which recently expanded to Philadelphia, where he guides Jewish high schoolers on questions of Israel and other issues of American Jewish life. He also coordinates ACCESS, AJC’s young professional network.

Q: Were you involved in Baltimore’s Jewish community growing up?

A: Yes, I was. I went to Jewish day school through eighth grade and then a public magnet art high school. Additionally, Jewish community-wise, my grandfather was the rabbi of my synagogue, so I grew up in a synagogue-centric Jewish community.

Q: What motivated you to get involved in Hillel?

A: It was really the community that I found on campus in my first few weeks as a student at Temple. … I went to Temple because I wanted to be a journalist and I wanted to be in a big market, and Temple has a great media and communications, and a great journalism, program. I wasn’t looking for a big Jewish community necessarily but I attended Temple Hillel’s FreshFest program, which is their freshman orientation program. I did that my first week. Very quickly, a lot of my close friends in school, I met at Temple Hillel. That became the anchor, and I started going to events that first semester, and then I ran for the student board.

Q: Did your wanting to be a journalist change over the years?

A: Yeah, it did. I can’t really pinpoint the moment that shift started happening. I did do an internship the summer after my freshman year with the NPR station in Baltimore, WYPR. I did some journalism in college, but there was a point where I looked around and I had all these journalism friends who were writing for The Temple News and they had a radio show and all those things, and I was not doing anything in journalism, but I was on the Hillel board and I was doing Israel things. There was a point where I started looking toward Jewish communal work, and then I did an internship here in the AJC Philadelphia office the summer of 2016, and that experience really cemented for me the fact that I wanted to do Jewish communal work professionally.

Q: Why were you interested in working for AJC versus another Jewish organization?

A: They take on a number of communal issues, not just issues relating to Israel. They deal with anti-Semitism globally, both in the United States, in Europe and elsewhere. In college, I felt bombarded by Israel politics all the time on campus, and I was looking for an organization that cared about Israel but also about other issues as well, other domestic issues that are as important to American Jews, to global issues beyond Israel, to anti-Semitism in Europe and so forth. That’s what first attracted to me the organization. I’m also a big proponent of interreligious and intergroup work, which is a one of the most important parts of AJC’s mission.

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